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To help analyse the usage of various anglicisms, Vicki and Will tagged articles from French Buzzfeed. Every anglicism was marked with information concerning its part of speech, character count, and syllable count. This information will be used to detect any possible patterns regarding which English words and suggested replacements are readily accepted into the French language.


Using the Python application “Scrapy,” we collected articles from Buzzfeed France (buzzfeed.fr). Will and Vicki (our group’s French majors) went through each of the articles to check for anglicisms and verified the borrowings’ etymology using Wiktionary français. Each of the articles was checked twice to ensure consistency.

We marked anglicisms using the tag "anglicisme" and subsequently noted each anglicism’s part of speech, syllable count and semantic category. Below is an example of a marked anglicism:

<st>Posez donc ce <anglicisme pos="nom" cc="12" sc="3">selfie-stick</anglicisme> et apprenez à prendre les meilleures photos de votre vie.</st>

Key: *sc= “Syllable Count” pos= “Part of Speech” nom= “Noun”
adj= “Adjective” verbe= “Verb” abbr= “Abbreviation”
*Syllable count was determined using the Parisian “chute de ‘e’” (link to read more about this) standard.

Click here to see a sample article marked up in English, and here to see the same article in French.

Etymological Gray Areas

Many of the non-French words we encountered were associated with brand names, products and movie and television titles, which were decidedly tougher to categorize than your standard anglicism, such as “selfie,” for example. Ultimately, we decided that brand and title names should not be counted as anglicisms, as the decision to translate these terms and phrases is one made by corporations, not the general, French-speaking public. Products, by contrast, we decided should be considered anglicisms, as, much like any other neologism, speakers use these terms creatively.

Essentially, if the term behaved like a proper noun, we did not count it as an anglicism, whereas if the word could be pluralized, preceded by a determiner, modified by an adjective etc., it was considered a common noun and therefore tagged as an anglicism. Additionally, if the word exhibited any sort of change in part of speech, that change was considered evidence that the word had undergone creative processes, and that term, too, was added to our list.

Especially gray terms like “Facebook” were marked differently depending on context. In the article (the Mexico one), for instance, the term “Facebook” appears multiple times, but of these times, the word is never seen alongside a determiner, nor is it pluralized, modified or used creatively. Additionally, in this article, we only ever see the term as a hyperlink, meaning, more likely than not, these tokens of “Facebook” simply exist to give credit to the company “Facebook, Inc.” and are therefore referring to the brand, Facebook, not the product.

In other cases, however, the term appears to be very much immersed within the French language. BuzzFeed users discuss “pages Facebook,” for example, where “Facebook” appears to be an adjectival form derived from the original noun borrowing. They also use phrases like “mon facebook,” where “mon” is a determiner meaning my, and even pluralize the term according to the pluralization rules of their language (i.e. “facebooks”). “Facebook” in these contexts, then, seems to behave more like a common noun than a proper one. This behavior suggests that a true adoption of the term has taken place and that these tokens are in fact anglicisms.

An additional problem we encountered was the surprisingly large number of English words of Old French origin that are now being borrowed back into the French language. (example) In cases like these, we determined that as long as the language from which the word is being borrowed is English, that term should be considered an anglicism (i.e. emprunté à l’anglais). ​However, if an entire sentence was in English, then it was not considered an anglicism.

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